Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Anti-Bullying Irritation

I have one. An Anti-Bullying Irritation. I hate anti-bullying campaigns. They seriously make me mad.

Here's the thing, I am completely against bullying behaviour. I think mean chatter, cyber humiliation, hallway intimidation, locker room taunts and any other action or word that is intended to make another person feel threatened or marginalized is wrong and unnecessary. I detest the act of 'bullying'. What I detest just as much is the isolation and vilifying of the kids who commit these acts.

All the research shows that the kids who do the bullying are the ones who have been bullied themselves. The same kids sending cruel texts, making threats on the school yard and being physically aggressive on the school bus are the same kids who are being mentally, emotionally or physically tormented in some area of their lives.

This isn't an excuse ... its a fact.

So then, if this is true, if the kids who are targeting other kids are targets themselves how is isolating them, belittling them and turning them into monsters going to help them curb this behaviour?

The act of bullying is atrocious and reprehensible. The 'bully', the kid is not. When you back a kid into a corner, when you label them and treat them with constant suspicious and negativity you block their exit. They have no way back from the bad behaviour if you label them as The Bully. They have no way to make amends and change their interactions with people if they feel like no one is rooting for them, believes in them.

Don't get me wrong, the behaviour needs to be dealt with but the kid still needs to feel acceptance and forgiveness, especially from the adults in the situation. For instance, there is a girl in Crafty's class who could be labelled as The Bully. She cannot keep her hands to herself, she does intrusive and gross things, she is constantly insulting or belittling her classmates and one of her favourite targets is Crafty. It drives me nuts that this kid is forever doing things to make Crafty's life miserable and I have spoken to the staff at the school several times about dealing with the behaviour.

I want the behaviour stopped. I want the kid helped.

When Crafty and her friends start going off about how much of a bully this kid is I stop them immediately. I let them know that they have every right to stand up from themselves, to remove themselves from harm and threat but that by labelling this kid, by looking at her only from the perspective of her negative actions, we are holding her back from changing.

What if people only looked at you from the perspective of your worst attributes? What if you had to walk through life known simply as The Liar, The Glutton, The Adulterous or The Gossip? How good would you feel about yourself? How easy would it be for you to hold your head up high and work towards change?

Yeah, that's what I thought ... and you're the grown up. Hate the behaviour, love the kid. Change the kid, eliminate the behaviour.

Its never too late to become who you might have been.
~George Eliot

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